Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
About those fireworks...

Ellie Mae or may not...

Ellie Mae or may not...
In through the out gate...

Rattler relocation

Rattler relocation
Snakes are beautiful critters.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
"Let us bee happy in our work..."


Nothing says summer like zinnias.

Pink Yarrow and carnations

Pink Yarrow and carnations
Life on the farm

HappyDay Farms grows it better.

HappyDay Farms grows it better.
Home-grown by HeadSodBuster

Where the living is easy

Where the living is easy
Garlic drying, with our newly painted water tank in the background

July magic

July magic
Artichoke-strictly for ornamental purposes

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

Sunday, September 25, 2016

License and Registration, Please

In the hootch, Korea.

This is the fourth chapter in my nostalgic look back at a time period when we did not hesitate to ask favors of our siblings, because we knew they would come through. It was July of 1975, and we were
“Stranded” out on the tarmac of a Flying A service station, waiting for younger bro, Matt, to rescue us.

License and Registration, Please

“There’s something happening here,
What it is ain’t exactly clear.
There’s a man with a gun over there,
Telling me I got to beware.

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look at what’s going down.

Paranoia strikes deep,
Into your life it will creep.
It starts when you’re always afraid,
Step out of line the man come and take you away.”   Buffalo Springfield

I had awakened Matt in the middle of the night with an impossible request. Could he come from LA and tow us up to San Jose, in his four-cylinder Datsun truck, no less, WITH camper shell? With the little truck only six or so weeks into its tenure with him, it seemed like a lot to ask.

The request was indeed challenging, but he was up to the task. But before he could even begin, Matt had to round up a tow-bar and running lights, hopefully from Jack, and then head out of the LA Basin. He needed to drive up and over the mountains north of LA, via the Tejon Pass, and down into the Central Valley, and all the way to Bakersfield.

There he would find us patiently waiting in the balmy air of Bakersfield, cooled down from its 110 degree day temperature to a more manageable 85, an appreciative trio of wayfarers, if ever there were one.

“Far out! Gimme five!” was my greeting to Matchu, as we called him back in the day. He would have turned eighteen the previous February, though he had been functioning on his own for quite a while already.

He had busted loose of LA in September of ’74 and joined us at the house on War Admiral, and had attended San Jose State, full-time. I remember we shared a class in American fiction, taught by an old-school, chain-smoking professor, whose vocal cords resonated huskily from her forty-year association with unfiltered cigarettes. 

Dr. Macare would lean against the doorjamb of the classroom door, light one up, look around her and announce, "I know there are rules about smoking in the classroom, but I don't care." She would glare out at us, and no one said a word. As far as I was concerned, it was a good deal, because it helped mask the aromatic fragrance of my break-time doobie.
The seminar met once a week, from seven to ten, and we would commute back and fourth together. It was a trip to be attending college classes with Matt, after I had been discharged from the military, because it was just as we had planned: move out of LA, go to school and look for land.

Matt had migrated back down to LA, temporarily in need of gainful employment, and Jack had made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: “You wanna help me board up repossessed homes for Home Savings Bank?”

I mean, doesn’t everybody?

Ironically, around December of ’75, about five months after this escapade, Matt sold his little Datsun truck, and used the $600.00 as his share of a down payment on twenty acres of land, up on a ridge in northern Mendocino County, on Bell Springs Road.

Slapping my high five, he returned, “And solid! How’s it hangin’, my Mellow? Heard you were hung out to dry.”

“Bogus would be the operative word. The bug snapped its rubber band.” I returned. “I can’t even believe you’re here, Man. That is so gnarly!”

“Hey, don’t freak out. What was I supposed to do? Check you later?” 

“Heavy City. You are The Man.” I couldn’t put it any more succinctly.

“So, what do you think? Is my Datsun going to be able to tow your bug?” If this seemed like a funny time to be raising this question, it was only because of the nature of the fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants kind of operation.

“Hey, Dude… I can push the bug by myself, and have done so many times. Your Datsun has to be able to tow it-says so in the manual. The only place we are likely to have problems, is going over Highway 152, and we’ll just have to take it slow and easy.”

As if we had a choice.

The tow-bar was a simple device which was attached to the undercarriage of the bug and then affixed to the Datsun via a rudimentary trailer ball and hitch, which the little Datsun already had. The running lights, with their powerful magnets, simply went on either side of the rear of the bug. 

Matt had lucked out when he went to Jack’s, because he knew Jack had the tow bar, but not the lights. Jack didn’t have them, but he knew who did. Another midnight call, and Matt was set to go. All-in-all we were in good shape, for the shape we were in.

Tom and Nancy stretched out in the bed of the truck, inside the cover of the camper shell, and did their best to sleep, considering we were still more than three hours away from San Jose. Matt drove and I rode shotgun, and needless to say, we weren’t worried about falling asleep.

“This is such the bomb. I can’t even believe we are pulling this off,” Matt offered.

“Off the hook, Dude, you are rockin’. We have job security; just keep on truckin’ and we got this.”

Highway 5, for the most part, is just a flat ride for a couple hundred miles, and then eventually you have to go up and over 152 to drop into the Santa Clara Valley. The way I figured it, the worst that could happen is that we would not be able to drive at 55 MPH, like we could out on the Central Valley floor.

That being said, I thought we could do better than 30, but that’s what we were down to, at one point.

“For rizzle, Man. What’s the scene? We’re probably not having issues. What’s the haps?” I had been watching the speedometer, and we had gone from a steady fifty miles per hour, to thirty, in the past few minutes, as we made our way up the grade. 

I thought it was a tad bogus, because for the first stretch, it seemed as though the little Datsun were doing just fine. All of the sudden, I wasn’t so sure. 

“I’ve got the pedal to the metal,” Matt quipped, “but I’m not stoked that we are bogging down. It’s a good thing there is no traffic.”

No sooner had the words been spoken, when a pair of headlights bore down on us, and fastened themselves onto our little caravan. Matt would simply have pulled over, had there been convenient spot, but such was not the case.

“This dude is on my case,” Matt said. “What am I supposed to do?”

“Fuck him if he can’t take a joke,” I offered, remembering how the Divine Miss Bette Midler might have addressed the same question. “We’re doing the best we can. Besides, here comes a spot; you can pull over and let him pass.”
Don't you hate to see these pretty lights?
At that very instant, the sky lit up with brilliant red and blue lights, and we’re not talking Northern Lights, either.

“The fuzz?” I don’t know why that should come as any surprise. We had slowed to a crawl by highway standards.”

“Say good-night, John-Boy. 4-sho, this is a bummer.”

Matt eased over to the side and rolled to a stop. 

He got his license out of his wallet, while I fished out his registration out of the glove box, for the nice highway patrolman. 

“License and registration, please,” came the request.

The cop had played his flashlight beam over the interior of the cab when he first walked up, to assess the situation, and then had stepped back and asked, simply, “How long did you think you were going to be able to pull this stunt?”

Whatever we were expecting him to say, it wasn’t that.

“As long as we could get away with it, I guess,” was my weak attempt at humor. “Is there a problem, your Honor?” I figured it couldn’t hurt to butter him up.
The Man! The Man!

“Yes, there is problem. You can’t go on like this; I don’t know how you got this far as it is. If you need me to call a garage, I can arrange to do that.”

What? Something is happening here, but I don’t know what it is. 

Tomorrow: Tomatoes


  1. Wait. So was the problem for the cop just that you were going too slowly for that stretch of highway?

    1. Punchline tomorrow. I'll give you a hint: He didn't like the fact that we had a flat tire on the bug...